“I’ve been to Haiti and The Dominican Republic twice now on mission trips,” explains Northeast Elementary School kindergarten teacher Dana Cornwell, left. “Both times, I came home, sat on my couch and cried at how fortunate I am compared to these people who have literally nothing but are the most wonderful human beings I have ever met.”
Cornwell and her family visited these countries to meet their sponsored children through the humanitarian organization World Vision. This year, though, the family teamed up with two dentists to create their own non-profit called Cheerful Heart Dental Mission and will be traveling March 19-24. Cornwell can’t go due to work, so she’s gathering donations for her friends and family to take with them.
The mission needs toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, mouth wash, Tylenol and multivitamins. Items can be dropped off at Northeast’s front office now through March 15.
Cheerful Heart, affiliated with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, will visit churches, schools and irrigation project sites to offer the supplies and free dental care, helping more than 400 people. Cornwell says the visits to the schools really get to her. Kids sit on dirt floors in homemade shacks. Each child receives a gift from the duffel bag.
“It would amaze me that anytime we visited the home of a poor person or did something significant for them, they would say, ‘We pray for you. We pray that God continues to bless you so that you can continue to bless us.’” Cornwell says she comes home wondering who has been more blessed, herself or the people she thought she was helping.
The address for donation drop offs:
Northeast Elementary School
603 Grove Street
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Hours: 8:20 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.